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FEATURES | Russia's Arctic Strategy: Ambitions and Constraints 

Arctic power." 1 The adoption of the docu- 
ment has further highlighted the country's 
increased interest in the region. The policy 
paper, to date available only in Russian, has 
not received much analytical attention, unlike 
other key Russian documents. 

This article addresses elements of Rus- 
sia's plans for the Arctic in terms of economic 
policy and legal and military issues and 
devotes particular attention to the differ- 
ences between the current Russian approach 
to security in the region and the attitudes 
presented in the previous Arctic strategy 
adopted in 2001. 2 Subsequently, it examines 
the geopolitical context of the Russian Arctic 
policy and sheds light on the country's foreign 
policy rhetoric and its impact on the regional 
security environment. Finally, it assesses 
prospects for implementation of the Russian 

Arctic Region 

policy objectives and draws implications of 
the findings for regional security. 


The Arctic policy document was 
published in March 2009, 6 months after it 
was signed. In contrast with the widespread 
media coverage that Russian activity in the 
Arctic was getting only a few months before, 
the document was posted by the authorities 
without further notice and publicity, and it 
was immediately filed in the archives section 
of the Russian Security Council Web site. 
Unlike the previous Arctic policy document 
of 2001, it refers sparingly to Russia's hard 
security interests and plans in the region. 
It also abstains from the assertive, belliger- 
ent rhetoric frequently used by Moscow in 
recent years. 

The Russian authorities have ambi- 
tions to address one of the biggest challenges 
in the country's approach toward the vast 
northern regions — the lack of a coherent 
strategy. Despite attempts to revive the state 

the version of the document 
presented to the public reflects 
areas of particular interest 

and aspirations rather than 
presenting a consistent strategy 
to pursue objectives consciously 

and systematically over time 

policy, its objectives, formulated in 2001, 
were not carried out with sufficient assidu- 
ity, something Russian politicians admit 
themselves. 3 Can the newly designed docu- 
ment make a difference? 

The fundamentals of the Arctic policy 
were designed under the auspices of the influ- 
ential Russian Security Council, whose per- 
manent members include the most important 
centers of power, such as the president, prime 
minister, ministers of interior, foreign affairs, 
and defense, and the directors of the Federal 
Security Service of the Russian Federation 
{Federcd'naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy 
Federatsii, or FSB) and the Foreign Intel- 
ligence Service. In drafting the document, 
most of the ministries and other parts of the 
executive and legislative branch responsible 
for various aspects of the Arctic policy have 
been involved, supported by leading experts 
and academics. The version of the document 
presented to the public sheds light on how the 
Russian authorities think about the Arctic 
and reflects areas of particular interest and 
aspirations rather than presenting a consistent 
strategy to pursue objectives consciously and 
systematically over time. 

The document gives certain general 
policy guidelines. The final shape of the 
Russian Arctic policy, however, will depend on 
detailed programs formulated in the appropri- 
ate ministries and governmental agencies on 
the basis of the document and subsequently 
on their implementation — or lack thereof. As 
experience with the previous ambitious plans 
shows, achieving the goals may take longer 
than scheduled, if they are achieved at all. 

Economic Development 

The Russian leadership clearly empha- 
sizes the importance of the Arctic to the coun- 

1 04 JFQ / issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 

try's wealth and competitiveness on global 
markets as a major source of revenue, mainly 
from production of energy. As much as 20 
percent of Russia's gross domestic product 
(GDP) and 22 percent of the total Russian 
export is generated north of the Arctic Circle. 4 
The region's economic promise lies primarily 
in its rich natural resources and its potential 
as an attractive maritime transit passageway. 
The ultimate objective of the state policy is to 
transform the Arctic into "Russia's foremost 
strategic base for natural resources" by 2020. 5 

The Arctic is clearly vital to Russia's 
relevance in world affairs as well. The role of 
energy reserves in strengthening the country's 
position and influence on the international 
stage has been emphasized in the national 
security strategy up to 2020 that was adopted 
in May 2009. According to Russian sources, 
up to 90 percent of the hydrocarbon reserves 
found on the entire Russian continental shelf 
is in the Arctic, with 66.5 percent located in its 
Western part, in the Barents and Kara Seas. 6 
The project for Russia's energy strategy up 
to 2030 points out that resources located in 
the Arctic seas and in the Russian northern 
regions could compensate for dwindling 
deposits in existing fields based in Western 
Siberia, where a sharp decline in oil and gas 
production is expected in the next 20 years. 7 
Consequently, one of the main goals of the 
Arctic policy is to increase extraction of the 
natural resources in the region. 8 

In September 2008, the Russian Security 
Council gave assurances that the government 
had earmarked "serious economic support" 
for implementation of the Arctic policy. 
However, prospects for developing the region 
under current economic circumstances are 
poor. 9 The Russian Ministry of Economic 
Development and Trade announced that the 
Russian GDP dropped 10.1 percent in the first 
6 months of 2009. The World Bank assessed 
that Russia experienced in 2009 "larger-than- 
expected losses in output and employment, 
and a sharp rise in poverty." Although the 
Russian economy might grow 3.2 percent in 
2010, experts warn that long-term sustainable 
growth can be achieved only with the intro- 
duction of comprehensive structural reforms, 
including diversification of the economy. 10 

The financial downturn and relatively 
low energy prices have affected investments in 
the Arctic and will slow the pace of develop- 
ment of the petroleum industry in the region. 
The Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea 
and Prirazlomnoe oil field in the Pechora Sea 

will be Russia's first Arctic offshore fields in 
production. Due to a dramatic drop in exports 
and revenues, Gazprom suffered serious 
losses and accordingly cut its investment 
plans for 2010 by about 50 percent. In July 
2009, the company officially confirmed that 
it was delaying the launch of Shtokman, one 
of the biggest offshore gas fields in the world 
and a major driving force for future Russian 
economic activity in the Arctic. Gazprom's 
partner in this project, French Total, stated 
in October 2009 that Shtokman would not be 
profitable with the current gas prices. 11 With 
relatively low oil prices, the Russian govern- 
ment may encounter similar problems in 
other onshore gas fields in the gas-rich Yamal 
Peninsula, which are to be developed first. 

One of Russia's fundamental goals in the 
Arctic is the development of the Northern Sea 
Route (NSR) as a wholly integrated transpor- 
tation link and a central element in maritime 

Sailor inspects USS Texas near North Pole 

connections between Europe and Asia. The 
importance of the NSR has been highlighted 
in a range of recently adopted strategic docu- 
ments, which point to a "sharply increasing 
role" of the NSR in connection with growing 
extraction of the Arctic's natural reserves. 
Moscow perceives this shipping channel as the 
sole means of transportation for the impor- 
tant industries located in Russian coastal and 
insular Arctic regions. 

By 2015, Russia aims to have established 
and developed an infrastructure and system of 
management of communications for the NSR 
to secure Euro-Asiatic transit. The expected 
increase in Russian petroleum activity will 
lead to a sharp boost in the level of shipping 
through the NSR westward, mainly from the 
Barents and Kara Seas. Some Russian forecasts 
expect that the cargo flowing through the NSR 
may reach a volume of 5 to 6 million tons, and 
increase to 13 to 15 million tons by 2015. For 

issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 I JFQ 1 05 

FEATURES | Russia's Arctic Strategy: Ambitions and Constraints 

comparison, at its peak in 1987, the transport 
volume through the NSR reached 7 million 
tons, while in the 1990s it diminished gradually 
to a relatively stable 1.5 to 2 million tons. 

To meet the requirements of the 
increased economic activity in the Arctic 
and to ensure restructuring of the volume of 
maritime freight, Russia recognizes as a pre- 
requisite the development of modern harbors 
with appropriate infrastructures and the 
acquisition of new nuclear-powered icebreak- 
ers together with assets for an air support and 
rescue fleet. 12 Although Russia still has the 
world's largest and most powerful icebreaker 
fleet, limited maintenance and construc- 
tion capacity has caused general deteriora- 
tion since the 1990s. The seven active (and 
world's only) nuclear-powered icebreakers 
constructed in the 1970s and 1980s are aging 
quickly, and all except one will be decommis- 
sioned by 2020. 13 Viacheslav Ruksha, head of 
Atomflot, which manages the icebreakers, 
warned that Russia will face a "collapse" of 
these capacities in 2016-2017 if a new genera- 
tion nuclear-powered icebreaker is not ready 
by that time. 14 

The Russian authorities have taken steps 
to address the problem and charged the State 

Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom) with 
development of a long-term plan for construc- 
tion of new vessels. Rosatom's director, Sergei 
Kirienko, argues that Russia has to build at 
least three to four third-generation icebreakers 
in the next few years to maintain the country's 
potential in the Arctic. The first was due to be 
launched in 2010. Nevertheless, the economic 
downturn has left its mark on this project. In 
November 2009, it was reported that funding 
for the new vessel will only figure in the state 
budget for 2011. Given that construction of 
one icebreaker takes 5 to 6 years, with the 
current pace of rejuvenating the fleet, Russia's 
capacity to support its economic activities in 
the region is likely to be substantially reduced 
by 2020, making implementation of the Arctic 
strategy less realistic. 

Legal Questions 

Closely intertwined with the importance 
of the Arctic to Russia are the country's efforts 
to settle the outer limits of the continental 
shelf in the region beyond 200 nautical miles, 
noted in the Arctic document as a top prior- 
ity to be accomplished in the period 2011 to 
2015. 15 In this context, the government is clear 
that the partition of the Arctic will be carried 

out entirely within the framework of interna- 
tional law. 

Russia filed its first request with the 
United Nations (UN) Commission on the 
Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2001, but 
the board demanded more evidence. Con- 
sequently, Moscow attaches importance to 
scientific research in the region (geological, 
geophysical, cartographical, hydrographical, 
and other) since the results will play a deci- 
sive role in the accomplishment of the legal 
process. 16 On the basis of the research, Russia 
intends to develop a competitive economic 
activity within extraction and transportation 
of energy resources in the region. 

Unlike the 2001 strategy, the Russian 
government highlights in the new Arctic doc- 
ument its longstanding position on the legal 
status of the NSR, thus reflecting its expected 
increasing significance. The document states 

Russia has to build at least 
three to four third-generation 

icebreakers in the next few 
years to maintain the country's 
potential in the Arctic 



1 06 JFQ / issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 

that the NSR is a "national transportation 
route" under Russia's jurisdiction. Navigation 
via this sailing channel is to be carried out in 
compliance with Russian laws and the coun- 
try's international agreements. In the federal 
statute of July 31, 1998, the NSR is defined as "a 
historically existing national unified transport 
route of the Russian Federation in the Arctic." 
It includes navigation via straits within and 
between the Russian Arctic archipelagos, 
including the Vilkitski, Shokalski, Dmitri 
Laptev, and Sannikov Straits. Russia labels 
these straits as part of its internal waters. 

The Russian claim to jurisdiction over 
the NSR is based on article 234 of the UN 
Convention on the Law of the Sea. The article 
"gives coastal states the right to unilaterally 
adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws 
and environmental regulations in their Exclu- 
sive Economic Zones (EEZs) where ice cover- 
age and particularly severe climate conditions 
cause exceptional hazards to navigation, and 
where pollution could cause major harm to 
the ecological balance." 17 According to the 
Russian regulations, all vessels intending to 
enter the NSR should give advance notifica- 
tion to Russian authorities and submit an 
application for guiding, which implies paying 
a fee for using the route. 

The question of the legal status of the 
NSR complicates the fact that it is not a single 
shipping channel, but a series of different 
shipping lanes stretching between 2,200 and 
2,900 nautical miles, depending on ice condi- 
tions. 18 According to Russian experts, "the 
integral nature of the NSR as a transport route 
is not affected by the fact that individual por- 
tions of it, at one time or another, may pass 
outside boundaries of internal waters, territo- 
rial waters and EEZ, i.e., it may pass into the 
high seas." 19 The NSR may thus include sea 
lanes running beyond Russia's EEZ as long 
as part of the voyage includes waters under 
undisputed Russian jurisdiction. 

Other important actors in the region 
may regard the Russian interpretation as 
somewhat controversial — particularly the 
United States, which considers the straits of 
the NSR as international and thus subject to 
the right of transit passage. This position was 
recently confirmed in the U.S. Arctic region 
policy document adopted in January 2009. 20 
On different occasions, Russia has warned 
that attempts by other countries to change 
the NSR's legal status and transform it into 
an international transit corridor would be in 
conflict with Russia's national interests. As 

the importance and value of this transport 
channel are likely to increase in the future, 
the question of its legal status may become a 
matter of contention. 

Military Issues 

The Russian authorities highlight the 
need to make necessary preparations for the 
security challenges that may derive from the 
expected increase in economic and other 
activities in the Arctic. Hence, they devote 
much attention to development of search and 

to protect the country's national interests "in 
various military and political situations." 23 
The Russian authorities, however, underscore 
that the main purpose of such military prepa- 
rations is to combat terrorism at sea, smug- 
gling, illegal migration, and unsustainable use 
of aquatic biological resources. Hence, the FSB 
is to play a central role in protecting national 
security interests in the region. A strong 
emphasis has been put on the development of 
a coastal defense infrastructure and advanced 
technological capabilities, including satel- 

Canadian Forces sovereignty patrol, 500 miles north of Arctic Circle, receives fuel 

rescue capabilities, surveillance, and naviga- 
tion systems to provide safety for and control 
of the economic, military, and ecological 
activities. 21 One of the goals of the Russian 
policy is the creation of a comprehensive 
security system by 2015, including early 
warning, prevention, and crisis management 
capabilities. Russia also emphasizes a need for 
cooperation with other Arctic countries and 
defines strengthening efforts to establish a 
unified regional search and rescue system as a 
strategic priority. 22 

Russia stresses the importance of a con- 
tinued military presence as essential for secur- 
ing national interests in the Arctic, although 
Russia's defense policy in the region is 
discussed in the Arctic document only in ves- 
tigial form. The document vaguely states that 
Russia needs to maintain a "necessary combat 
potential" in the North and reveals plans to 
establish special Arctic military formations 

lites and radars. In September 2009, the FSB 
announced that Arctic formations were estab- 
lished in border guard units in Arkhangelsk 
and Murmansk and were patrolling along the 
NSR for the first time in many years. 

The document has thus to some extent 
confirmed information released by represen- 
tatives of the Russian Ministry of Defense 
in mid-2008 concerning adjustments being 
made to the combat plans and military 
organization of the three military districts 
bordering the Arctic: Leningrad, Siberian, 
and Far Eastern. They announced also that an 
Arctic spetsnaz (special purpose forces) would 
be formed to support Russia's northern policy. 
Russian military and political leaders have 
argued that defense of national interests from 
the northwest strategic direction has become 
more relevant and pointed also at other exist- 
ing motivations behind such military prepa- 
rations. They have noted the international 

issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 I JFQ 1 07 

FEATURES | Russia's Arctic Strategy: Ambitions and Constraints 

attention to the military potential and energy 
resources of the Arctic as factors calling for an 
immediate strengthening of Russia's positions 
in order to secure the region. 

Russia's approach to Arctic affairs has 
been of two minds and thus sometimes con- 
fusing and difficult to interpret. Self-assertive 
and occasionally aggressive rhetoric has 
alternated with more conciliatory signals and 
practical compliance with international law. 
The tone of the Arctic document is moderate 
and stands in contrast to the harsh language 
previously used by Russia concerning various 
activities in the region, in particular in the 
military field. It not only refrains from bel- 
ligerent language, but it also omits issues that 
could be contentious or alarming. Apart from 
the few vague indications concerning military 
plans, references to the hard security sphere in 
the region are absent. The Russian authorities 
clearly highlight the importance of bilateral 
and multilateral cooperation in the region 
and the need to strengthen good relations 
with neighboring countries, in particular the 
"Arctic five." 24 

The difference in approach to hard 
security in the Arctic is striking in com- 
parison with the 2001 Arctic document, 
where issues of military security were 
understood in terms of zero-sum game and 
classical Realpolitik, assuming that states, 
particularly great powers, are in principle 
mutually hostile and competitive. The docu- 
ment stated that "all kinds of activity in the 
northern regions are in the highest degree 
connected to providing of national security." 
It urged steps to "actively counter strength- 
ening of military infrastructure and enlarge- 
ment of military activities" in the region by 
other countries and actors. 25 The document 
underlined the military strategic importance 
of the region to Russia's defense and pointed 
out that almost 20,000 kilometers of the 
state border were in the Arctic Ocean and its 
protection and defense imposed particular 
problems. 26 

Security of the border remains promi- 
nent in the new Arctic document. However, 
it approaches these issues in relation to soft 
security challenges, with the discussion of 
the hard security sphere being nearly absent. 
Despite this change of tone, the region has 

retained its special importance to Russia in a 
more traditional definition of security. 

The military strategic importance of 
the Northwest with its direct and easy access 
to the world's oceans has paradoxically been 
strengthened since the Cold War due to the 
geopolitical changes that limited Russia's 
access to the Baltic and the Black Seas. The 
Arctic is still an important home base and a 
suitable operational area for the Russian navy, 
in particular for its most powerful part, the 
Northern Fleet and the sea-based component 
of the Russian nuclear triad. The nuclear 
deterrent has maintained the key role in 
Russia's military strategy, strengthened by its 
weakness in conventional forces. Its continued 
importance has been corroborated by the 
priority given to modernization of the Russian 
nuclear arsenals, including the building of 
eight fourth-generation Bora-class ballistic 
missile submarines planned to be completed 
by 2015. 

Russia's intensifying of naval and air 
activity in the Arctic has taken place simul- 
taneously with its increased and global focus 

on the region's energy potential. At the same 
time, in particular since the end of President 
Putin's second term, the military has been 
given an enhanced role in efforts to return to 
the world stage as a great power. The resump- 
tion of strategic bomber flights along the 
Norwegian coast and in the Pacific in 2007 
and the presence of the Northern Fleet in the 
Arctic on a regular basis in 2008 have been 
visible expressions of this recent trend. The 
increased activity has been a result of the 
normalization of Russian military training 
after a long period of stagnation. However, 
Russian authorities have at least initially con- 
nected symbolic and political significance to 
the intensified military activity, which was 
accompanied by an assertive rhetoric. 

In the Russian assessment, there is no 
imminent threat of direct aggression against 
Russian territory or a large-scale military con- 
frontation in the region. Nonetheless, Moscow 
does not rule out the possibility of competi- 
tion for hydrocarbon reserves developing into 
small-scale tensions involving use of military 
power. Its security strategy states that the 
continental shelf in the Barents Sea and other 
parts of the Arctic are among regions where a 

potential for an increase in rivalry over energy 
resources is particularly high. A conviction 
that the contest for natural reserves may in the 
future pose a threat to Russia has been wide- 
spread in military circles. The General Staff in 
June 2009 described the "struggle for energy 
resources in the Arctic" as one the most 
important challenges and argued that the 
region should be included in the new revised 
European security architecture. 

Although Russian military activity in the 
Arctic has received less publicity and attention 
in the official rhetoric in 2009 than in preced- 
ing years, it has not become less important. 
The number of flights of strategic bombers 
along the Norwegian coast, despite the eco- 
nomic hardship, has been kept at a similar 
level as in 2008. 27 Russia has also continued 
to conduct large-scale military drills in the 
region, such as Ladoga-2009, which involved 
all units of the Leningrad Military District and 
some units of the Siberian Military District, 
interior troops, border guards, and the North- 
ern and Baltic fleets. In compliance with the 
Russian threat perception, one of the training 
scenarios included protection of oil and gas 
installations in northwest Russia. 

Among Moscow's military plans, which 
once realized could increase its striking power 
in the Arctic, is a major naval build-up aimed 
at strengthening blue-water capabilities, 
including, among others, 5 to 6 aircraft carrier 
squadrons, 20 new multipurpose corvettes 
(Steregushchii class), and 20 frigates (Admiral 
S. Gorshkov class). With few exceptions, 
however, these plans so far are only ambi- 
tions. Despite the clearly increased military 
activity and improved combat potential of the 
armed forces, these developments should be 
seen against the background of a still weak 
military. The pace of modernization has been 
slow, although a radical characteristic of 
military reforms being implemented, aimed 
at moving away from a mass mobilization 
army to a permanent readiness brigade model, 
reveals a new quality in the Russian approach. 
Much of these plans will depend on develop- 
ment in the Russian economy and the leader- 
ship's ability to transform and modernize it. 


As the example of the Russian Arctic 
security policy discourse has shown in recent 
years, the manner in which communication 
transpires matters and has the force to shape 
the reality. The sometimes tough Russian 
talk and behavior, including not only verbal 

Russia's approach to Arctic affairs has been of two minds and 
thus sometimes confusing and difficult to interpret 

1 08 JFQ / issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 


statements but also military posturing, have 
attained one of its goals and reminded the 
world that Russia remains a key factor for polit- 
ical developments in the region. On the other 
hand, responses from the world have shown 
that this strategy has had the potential to harm 
rather than promote Russia's interests abroad. 

One of the outcomes of the Russian 
policy has been to strengthen the international 
focus on military security in the Arctic. The 
occasionally aggressive rhetoric has lowered 
the threshold of sensitivity in other states 
toward Russia's moves in the hard security 
sphere and has raised, particularly in polar 
states, the question of their own military 
presence and preparedness — an outcome that 
Russia can hardly see as being in its inter- 
est. The perception of Russia as a potentially 
unpredictable player and security concern 
has been strengthened by the experience of 
the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008, 
which triggered security assessments in a 
range of countries. One example is that even 
the few modest sentences in the Arctic policy 
document concerning Russia's military plans 
immediately spurred speculation about "mili- 
tarization" of the region. Russian authorities 

have repeatedly rebuffed such accusations and 
given assurances that Moscow would regulate 
Arctic issues through negotiations and with 
respect for the rules of international law. 

Canada has been among the most vocal 
states in articulating its intentions to upgrade 
its military capabilities with regard to tasks in 
the Arctic. Commenting on the ground-sea- 
air joint Operation Nanook, Defence Minister 
Peter MacKay stated that the operation was 

One of Russia's major foreign policy 
objectives in recent years has aimed at limit- 
ing the presence of the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization (NATO) in the proximity of 
Russia's borders, included in the Arctic. But 
the outcome in the region has been quite the 
opposite. As stated in October 2009 by NATO 
Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral 
James Stavridis, the Russian "assertive 
conduct in the Arctic and a muscle-flexing" 

a radical characteristic of military reforms being implemented, 
aimed at moving away from a mass mobilization army to a 
permanent readiness brigade model, reveals a new quality in 
the Russian approach 

intended "to very clearly send a message, and 
to announce with authority, that we intend 
to use the Arctic . . . and that our presence 
there is going to continue to expand." 28 The 
intention to strengthen military capabili- 
ties in the Arctic has also been signalled in 
Denmark. A defense plan for the period 
2010-2014 approved in June 2009 envisages 
establishment of an Arctic military command 
structure and task force. 

were among the factors "grabbing the atten- 
tion of increasingly wary NATO leaders." 29 
He described the High North as an area of 
growing strategic concern. 

The sometimes assertive responses 
from the other Arctic states stimulate Russia's 
counterresponses and strengthen the ratio- 
nale for an increased military presence. Such 
mutually reinforcing dynamics may in the 
longer term lead to a stronger militarization 

Diver from University of Washington prepares to recover torpedo during U.S. Navy Ice Exercise 2009 

U.S. Navy (Tiffini M. Jones) 

issue 57, 2" quarter 2010 I JFQ 1 09 

FEATURES | Russia's Arctic Strategy: Ambitions and Constraints 

of the region, potentially creating new sources 
of tensions. Russian authorities have repeat- 
edly expressed their discontent with the focus 
on hard security in the Arctic and warned 
against its militarization, indicating measures 
it might take to address the challenges implied 
by such developments. According to Chief 
of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov, those 
measures would be reflected in assignments 
given to the Northern and Pacific Fleets and 
the sea-based strategic nuclear deterrent. 

The apparent adjustments in the 
Russian Arctic rhetoric — less publicity for the 
military posturing and stronger emphasis on 
conciliatory positions — may provide better 
ground for closer cooperation and facilitate 
diplomatic progress. Focus on common 
interests and areas where parties involved 
need each other can be a way of improving 
international relations in the region. One of 
the areas where international cooperation is 
welcomed by Russia (and is unavoidable in 
order to address challenges emerging in the 
simultaneously hostile and highly vulnerable 
environment) is marine safety, search and 
rescue, and crisis management. None of the 
Arctic countries has the complete spectrum of 
assets needed to cover the whole geographic 
area and respond on their own to asym- 
metrical and soft security challenges. Apart 
from being necessary, such cooperation has a 
strong confidence-building potential, still in 
shortage in the region as the recent military 
and security dynamics have shown. 

Tentative Conclusions 

While it is still too early to assess whether 
the increased Russian focus on the Arctic 
translates into a more coherent approach and 
what chance the Arctic policy objectives have 
of being implemented, it has become clear that 
the already announced delays, mainly due to 
financial constraints, will make it difficult if 
not impossible to achieve the strategic goals in 
the indicated timeframe. 

In a long-term perspective, the widely 
expected growing global demand for gas 
and oil, combined with dwindling reserves 
in existing fields, will argue for exploration 
of new deposits in the North and offshore. 
Climate change will most probably continue, 
opening the Arctic to increased economic and 
industrial activity. Together with their geopo- 
litical implications, these developments argue 
for Russia's continued efforts to strengthen 
its presence, in accordance with reasoning 
expressed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei 

Ivanov: "If we do not develop the Arctic, it 
will be developed without us." 30 Nonetheless, 
expecting the vision of the Russian Arctic as a 
thriving economic hub for energy production 
and transpolar maritime transit to come true 
by 2020 may be too optimistic. 

The Arctic document has confirmed 
what Russian leaders have reiterated with 
increasing intensity: the region's importance, 
first and foremost in economic and security 
dimensions. One conclusion to be drawn 
from the ambitious economic projects is that 
Russia, for purely material reasons, has an 
interest in maintaining the region as an area 
of international cooperation and in preserv- 
ing its most important asset as the country's 
future economic engine — its stability. 

At the same time, the growing impor- 
tance of the Arctic both to Russia and the world 
is generating new driving forces for the Russian 
military presence. As economic activities 
increase, Russia will need to protect the signifi- 
cant assets that it is placing in the region. Thus, 
its military presence is likely to increase further 
in the future. Moscow's continued reliance on 
the nuclear deterrent, together with the focus 
on enhancing global naval power projection 
capabilities, indicates that the military strategic 
importance of the Arctic to Russia will remain 
high for the foreseeable future. JFQ 


1 Security Council of the Russian Federation, 
Osnovy gosudarstvennoi politiki Rossiiskoi Feder- 
atsii v Arktike na period do 2020 goda i dalneishuiu 
perspektivu, September 18, 2008, accessed at <www.>. Hereafter Osnovy, 2008. 

2 Government of the Russian Federation, 
Osnovy gosudarstvennoi politiki Rossiiskoi Feder- 
atsii v Arktike, June 14, 2001, accessed at <www.>. Hereafter Osnovy, 2001. 

3 The problem was analyzed by the Russian 
State Council's working group and came under 
scrutiny at the highest political level in 2004. 

4 Dmitrii Medvedev, speech at Meeting of the 
Russian Security Council on Protecting Russia's 
National Interests in the Arctic, September 17, 

2008, available at <>. 

5 Osnovy, 2008. 

6 Osnovy, 2001. 

7 Energeticheskaia strategiia Rossii na period 
do 2030 goda, August 27, 2009. As of late November 

2009, the document had not been published. It was 
referred to in several sources such as in the Russian 
government official newspaper Rossiiskaia gazeta, 
August 27, 2009. Presentations of the new strategy 
by Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko are avail- 
able at the home page of the Institute for Energy 

Strategy, available at <>; 
Victor Yasmann, "Race to the North Pole," Radio 
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 27, 2007. 

8 Osnovy, 2008. 

9 For statistics and analysis of major trends 
in world economic developments in the first part 
of 2009, see OECD Economic Outlook, no. 85, June 
2009, available at <>. 

10 World Bank, Russian Economic Report no. 
20: From Rebound to Recovery? Available at <http://>. 

11 N.J. Watson, "Total says Shtokman uneco- 
nomic at today's gas prices," Petroleum Economist, 
October 2009. 

12 Osnovy, 2008. 

13 For further information, see an analysis by 
Oleg Bukharin, "Russia's Nuclear Icebreaker Fleet," 
Science and Global Security, no. 14 (2006), 25-31. 

14 "Russia could lose its nuclear icebreaker fleet 
in 2016-2017— Atomflot," Interfax, October 2009. 

15 Osnovy, 2008. 

16 Ibid. 

17 Quoted in Claes Lykke Ragner, "The 
Northern Sea Route" ("Den norra sjovagen"), in 
Barents — ett grdnsland i Norden, ed. Torsten Hall- 
berg (Stockholm: Arena Norden, 2008). 

18 The Russian definitions of the Northern Sea 
Route are explored also in Willy Ostreng, "Histori- 
cal and geographical context of the Northern Sea 
Route," in The natural and societal challenges of 
the Northern Sea Route. A reference work, ed. Willy 
Ostreng (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Aca- 
demic, 1999). 

19 A.L. Kolodkin and M.E. Volosov, "The Legal 
Regime of the Soviet Arctic: Major Issues," Marine 
Policy, no. 14 (1990), 163-167. 

20 The National Security Presidential Directive 
and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, 
Arctic region policy, The White House, January 9, 
2009, available at <http://georgewbush-whitehouse.>. 

21 Osnovy, 2008. 

22 Ibid. 

23 Ibid. 

24 Osnovy, 2008. 

25 Osnovy, 2001. 

26 Ibid. 

27 As of November 2009. 

28 Randy Boswell, "Canada to conduct anti-sub 
exercises in Arctic," Times Colonist, August 8, 2009. 

29 John Vandiver, "NATO Commander Sees 
Arctic Seabed as Cooperative Zone," Stars and 
Stripes, October 10, 2009. 

30 See Alexander Balyberdin, "Arctic in the 
system of priorities for maritime activities," Mili- 
tary Parade, no. 4 (2009). 

110 JFQ / issue 57, 2" quarter 2010